A Guest Opinion
El 15 de junio de 2013. Hola. The following Guest opinion was written by a San Francisco resident. I’ve only done slight editing and removed the names of specific people and businesses we don’t want on our site. Chau.—rosa barrio
Hello pink barrio,
Or Hola, I should say! I’ve been reading your site for months. A friend sent me a link to your article about San Francisco, the fading Gay Mecca. That really held my attention. It took me over a week to read that because of its length. I read your other articles about the goings on here in San Francisco:
My interest in politics has been at national and international level, and not at the local San Francisco level. While reading your articles I became outraged at what I was reading. I had no idea of the shenanigans going on in the Castro neighborhood, who controls the Castro and the childish and petty politics of the (merchant and homeowner) groups there and [Ed. their conservative corporatist politician]. To let you know where I’m coming from politically I opposed the nudity ban and opposed sit-lie [Ed. sit-lie criminalizes homelessness in San Francisco].
After I started reading your site, I started reading other local sites too. That was enlightening. I’m glad you write about some local San Francisco stuff because other than one other local site, I learned that I don’t like any of the local sites. They seem to try to be the same. It’s like they have a political agenda and are being paid by somebody with an agenda. I noticed how most of the local sites serve as promoters of the merchants, restaurants and bars and give free glowing publicity to anyone from those groups. All of the local sites (except that one I mentioned and your site) are very partisan and still in love with their Dalai Bama. Comments on sites around here are largely by right wing trolls who write some very, very nasty stuff. Those sites have become unreadable.
I see what the gay community has turned into and I’m thoroughly disgusted with it. The people here really don’t seem to care about anything but partying meaning getting drunk and texting. I think you said that. It’s true. You’re also correct that what people call the gay community can’t be called a community any longer when no one talks. All they do is text. Do you know that people text to people who are in the same room with them?! WTF? Wouldn’t it be faster and easier to just walk over and talk with them in person?
San Francisco today is the opposite of what it was during the days of the activist gay rights movement and the days of Harvey Milk. What happened? The article you linked to from Ted Rall answers that question: Ted Rall: Gays and Lesbians: Sucked in by the Far Right. What Happened to the Wild, Free Gay Movement of the 1970s?
I read the article you linked to about SFPride and Bradley Manning. SF is just not what it used to be. I keep saying that because it’s true. Bradley Manning is off limits at San Francisco Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced. A seemingly trivial controversy reveals quite a bit about pervasive political values.
SFPride should now be called SFShame. I’m not going to SFShame later this month. I’m done with it. May they have the lowest attendance on record. I went to the protest of SFShame on May 17, 2013 at Harvey Milk Plaza protesting the Pride committee’s decision to rescind Bradley Manning as grand marshal. One local activist with a rather big head organized the protest. He exaggerated and sugar-coated the protest in his article about it. You know how many people were there? About 35-40. But hundreds of people came out of the Metro system and walked on by the protest and paid the protesters no attention. Most people either ignored them or were texting or talking on their iphone. That activist said there were 75 people there. Nope. Only about 35 to maybe 40 people were at that protest. While I was at the protest some guy behind me told the guy he was with, “these people are damaged.” He was talking about the protesters. We’re “damaged” because we don’t agree with him? Years ago I wouldn’t have expected to hear something like that in the Castro. The Castro has become so conservative. I came home after that protest feeling very depressed that this is what San Francisco is today. It’s just not the same city any more. Political activism is dead here. If they had brought in beer kegs at that protest and were giving out free beer and bottomless mimosas the people coming out of the Metro would have turned off their iphones, stopped texting and ran for the booze so they could get drunk and rowdy and throw up. But care for Bradley Manning? Who’s he? Who cares! Can’t be bothered! Didn’t Obama say Manning was guilty before having a trial? If Obama says it it must be true, right?
I see all the buildings that are going up all over town and most are described as “Luxury Designer Homes.” They’re condos for the super wealthy. I couldn’t afford them. My friends couldn’t afford them. The people I work with couldn’t afford them.
I read that over the next three years that nearly eight-thousand (8,000) new apartments will be built in SF and that’s more than all the rental housing built over the last fifteen years. But what’s missing from this? What’s missing is that the 8,000 new apartments will not be affordable housing. The apartments (meaning condos) will be for the rich because what I read talked about how SF’s skyline would be reshaped in a major way and how this would change the neighborhoods and the politics of SF in a major way, which it already is doing. Can someone explain to me how this city can withstand a minimum of 8,000 more people on Muni in three years, or even 8,000+ more motorists (if they don’t ride Muni)? [Ed. Muni is the public transport system for San Francisco]. Muni, especially the Metro, is already at full capacity and struggling. From the pictures I’ve seen of some of the new buildings they are sterile, some of them look the same (same architect?), they’re ugly, and insipid. The inside of these condos resemble the inside of a sterile office and office conference rooms. Very cold looking. One building I saw is nothing but walls of glass from ceiling to floor and that one is built on landfill near the Bay. I was working on one of the lower floors of the Embaracadero Center office skyscrapers [Ed. which is on landfill] during the big 1989 quake here and that place shook like hell. The building shook so violently that I thought it was all over for me. This new building is closer to the Bay than the Embarcadero Center. I also saw the outdoor pool for that building and the design looks like a hotel pool. They are perfect for the tech twits and materialistic-addicted nothings willing to vegetate and text-tate in such a soulless environment. I see more and more gigantic 2-story private tech shuttles in SF now than I do Muni buses.
Since everybody here seems absorbed to texting, I guess they think these gigantic tank-sized tech shuttles are just great. The tech people in those tall shuttles must look way down on the sidewalks and see all the textbots obsessed and spaced out to the industry they work for and smile to themselves and think, ‘yes they are hooked to my industry and as long as they are texting I’ll have a job. Keep texting, textbots.’
Have you noticed that the insane textbots no longer take any responsibility for their own behavior? They can’t take their eyes off that screen for any reason. They just walk in the direction they need to go and YOU are responsibility for not walking into them because all they see is that screen. They act the same way with motorists. Textbots don’t look in either direction before walking into traffic and expect drivers to take the responsibility of not hitting them while they’re texting. This afternoon when I was out a textbot walked smack right into me texting. She never said a word and she never saw me because she never took her eyes off that screen after our collision. She kept walking and texting. InSAnE.
The building boom taking place in San Francisco marks the death of this once very creative, passionate, radical, heart-full, lovely, Bohemian and rebellious city. The rebellious and radical city of San Francisco is gone. It is dead. This is very sad for me and many other people. The drastic changes in San Francisco have pissed me off, caused me to feel sad, disgusted, depressed and other feelings. Today, San Francisco is the opposite of the rebellious Bohemian city. I think you used the words homogenized and mainstream. That’s right. There would be no rebellion here today unless you closed all the bars, banned iphones, people couldn’t get money out of ATMs and couldn’t get food. Conformity is in and doing what everyone else is doing in order to fit in. Other than the weather, what makes San Francisco any different than any other U.S. city now? Before all this happened, there were many things that made us different than all other U.S. cities and those things were what made us special. Today it seems that people can’t abandon those things fast enough so that we become more and more like every other place! Some people are now describing San Francisco as a suburb of San José and Silicon Valley. Are the super wealthy that anxious and interested in moving to SF? Who is going to fill up all these “Luxury Designer Home” condos? Are all of these super wealthy condo buildings going to fill up with people or will they be like the ghost cities in China?
I’ve read on many websites that all the construction going on in SF is for mostly overpriced housing for the wealthy and is being funded by Chinese and international money and investors without objection from our elected politicians. Greed is what most of them are about. I know who owns the mayor. [Ed. Yes, his initials are RC. I know who you’re talking about: "Mr Tech/Mr Venture Capitalist"].
Someone recently wrote a post on a local website message forum. They said they’ve lived in SF for over 20 years and now despise what this city has become. Someone agreed with them and wrote that they had lived here over 30 years and loved this city up until a few years ago, but if they didn’t live here now they would not move here.
Remember when the Castro was sexy, sexual and the term “meat rack” was used in the neighborhood? Remember when guys came to the Castro to cruise and get some action? Fast forward to today. If you try to cruise in the Castro today you will likely be looked at suspiciously and even with disapproval, that is if the dude you’re cruising can take his eyes off his iphone long enough to notice you cruising him. Today guys prefer to waste hours and hours on gay geosocial networking applications with no end result. You don’t need social skills, dating skills or self-confidence to do that. When it’s all just an act one can text cocky and arrogant messages to other guys without having any self-confidence themselves. Some people think the cruising days will come back to the Castro and gay guys will go back to being social-in-person and sexual beings. I’m not one who thinks that. If it does happen, it won’t happen until people burnout on texting.
The Castro is a weird neighborhood today because of the different conflicting factions and groups in the neighborhood. I’ve never felt perfectly comfortable in the Castro even during the gay mecca days because I wasn’t a “Castro Clone” so I didn’t quite fit in. Back when the Castro was a sexy and sensual place, I felt free to express my opinion about something without the consequence of someone strongly disagreeing with me. Today I don’t express my opinion about anything for concern that the person I’m talking to such as a bystander or someone I don’t know well is on the conservative side of the political spectrum and would start a rant at me or would want to pick a fight over some innocent comment I may have made. I’ve seen that happen. I know not to say anything of importance to anyone if I don’t already know them and many people are saying it’s hard to get to know people these days.
The conservatives love what is happening to SF and to the Castro. It’s a dream come true for them. They’ve wanted this for a long, long time. They’ve been able to take over that one last little remaining progressive area (SF) and make it conservative. A traveling musician on that same message forum wrote that from reading that forum’s comments it looks like San Francisco is a Republican town now. Someone wrote back and said you’re very observant and most still call themselves Democrats in SF but that doesn’t mean anything anymore. One of the right-wing trolls who is always on that site came along and said they feel the opposite way about SF. They couldn’t be happier with what is happening to San Francisco.
Some conservatives list the number of chain stores already in the Castro as a reason to bring in more chain stores (corporations). The buzz phrase they use for new chain restaurants is “they use locally sourced (food),” as if that’s supposed to justify chain restaurants. I think the conservatives would be happy to have SF one big cement mall of chain stores. They also say how they want to see the Castro become a wealthier area with more expensive restaurants. The right-wing is extremely classist I’ve noticed from their comments. They are writing the most smug, hateful, nasty and classist troll-like comments I’ve ever seen on local message forums. Lots of hate towards anyone who is not wealthy and who is not just like them, and their main shtick is, “if you can’t afford to live in San Francisco move to Oakland.” They spam one message forum after the other with that line. I’ve heard that what is happening to SF is now slowly happening to Oakland. That would make sense.
Someone left a comment on another local site I was on asking who can possibly afford these “Luxury Designer Homes” which is how the majority of them are described from what I’ve seen. They said that for a $2Million condo with 20% down the buyer would have to make up to $400,000.00 a year. With a thirty-year loan one would have to be making $10,000.00 a month if the cost of housing is 28% of a buyer’s income so that buyer would have to make a minimum of $430,000.00 a year. That’s not including property taxes or Home Owner’s Association fees which are usually high. Then someone responded and said that they work in a tech company in San Francisco and every engineer they work with makes $2-300,000.00 per year and if they have a partner that also works there in an equivalent job then double that income. SF: A city for the wealthy.
You wrote about that new gay sports bar. Are we even sure it’s a gay bar? I can’t stand to walk by that bar. When I walk by there I often see guys and females together in pairs near the window. That bar seems as obnoxious as the one it replaced. A friend of mine said there was a fight at that bar on Sunday (06.06.13). He said there was a fist fight in front of the bar at which time the police arrived, the fire department and an ambulance arrived. At least one person was taken away in the ambulance. As soon as the fight was over the cops left. My friend saw no citations written for the drunks or the bar owner. Boozing it up, getting drunk, throwing up and getting into fights is what’s “in” now. Police citations are for the homeless innocently sitting in Warner Plaza. Unlike other gay bars that I can think of, have you noticed there is no gay flag of any kind on the front? Is the owner trying to give the impression it’s a straight bar? A few blocks away there’s a gay bar (a real one) with the rainbow, transgender, bear, and leather flags flying on the outside. The only flags on that gay sports bar are the bar’s flag with the name of the bar on it and a flag for the [Ed. corporatist national baseball sports' team for San Francisco]. This bar has been getting some negative feedback lately in reviews such as it’s a bar for “young professional Caucasian guys,” and one guy said he’s of an ethnic minority and didn’t feel comfortable there and called it a douche place (think obnoxious arrogant assholes). That’s the way it feels when I walk by there. I sense the bar owner is playing his cards. He’s a conservative so when his bar becomes known as the First Official Straight Sports Bar in the Castro he won’t have any gay flags to get rid of. He’s also a local supporter for that awful idea of building a sports’ arena (we need another one?) on the Bay which is another gift to the wealthy. That also comes with more “Luxury Designer Homes.”
The straights in the Castro? Oh gawd, they are all over the place. I hope they appreciate how the neighborhood has been sanitized for them to not resemble anything from the past. The straights start coming in on Tuesdays and they peak in number on weekends. They must not like any other neighborhood in the city since they seem to all be over here. It’s like there’s a computerized straight dating service somewhere in the Castro and straights meet at that agency for the first time for going out on their first date together after being matched up, and the instructions given to them are:
“Now go to Castro and Market and make out. Get a feel for each other. Make sure you are at Castro and Market on either side of the street (east or west). You just met each other through our straight dating service (aren’t you excited?!) so act as if you can’t wait to get laid with each other since that’s really what this is about isn’t it? LOL. Rub all over each other and nearly get it on right there at Castro and Market and have lots of deep kissing. Pretend you’re in a romantic novel. Make sure people notice you. Celebrate being straight. Be obvious about it. Be obnoxious about it. Regain your straight territory in the Castro; this is no longer a gay area. We’ll show them! Then from Castro and Market after your passionate make-out scene, walk hand-in-hand still kissing when lots of people can notice you being straight. Pretend you’re on stage but pretend not to see people looking at you because you’re so into each other. You don’t need to walk hand-in-hand when no one’s around to see you. There’s nothing to be gained by that. Thank you for enrolling in our straight dating service.”
That’s the way it feels to me when I’m in the Castro.
You wrote about THIS craziness. The gays guys who are walking around the Castro holding a woman’s hand. WTF is going on around here? Is that something new like a fad or something? Is that part of “the last closet?” A guy in my office who also lives in the Castro asked me about it. He asked me WTF is up with that? He said the guys look gay to him and they’re holding hands with a young female and kissing her as if they are “boyfriend and girlfriend.” This afternoon I saw a guy holding a woman’s hand and as they walked by me I overheard him say to her “the baby fags…” Baby fags? Excuse me? Is he also one of those gay guys holding a woman’s hand? People are flippin’ out that’s all I can say. [Ed. This article talks about that, if you haven’t already read it.]. Let me tell you this story. A woman at work whom I don’t get along with told me that the reason she and her boyfriend always hold hands in the Castro at her insistence is so that the gay guys in the Castro will know he belongs to her. She said her mother and father who are in their 60s and 70s do the same thing in the Castro for the same reason. I burst out laughing uncontrollable right in her face when I heard that shit. She insists they hold hands in the Castro because she doesn’t want a gay guy trying to get her boyfriend. I laughed so hard when she told me that, but I was also very offended. I asked her, “So tell me, do you think that all gay guys run after and try to get any guy? You don’t think that gay guys have standards just like you? Or do you think that just because your boyfriend has a penis that every gay guy would want to sleep with him? Before you met your boyfriend, did you run after and try to get any guy?” LOL. She didn’t know what to say to that. That shut her up and she looked embarrassed. I don’t think anyone had ever told her that before. I told her that if her boyfriend wants to be with a guy there’s not a damned thing she can do about it even if she cements her hand to her boyfriend’s hand. I told her she is very insecure (which I’ve noticed working with her) and I left for lunch.
Another gay guy I know used to be married to a woman (divorced now) and he came out a few years ago and has a boyfriend and is much happier. I asked him how it was being married to his wife. He said for him it was all women not just his wife. The women he dated were just as bad. They expect you to hold their hand in public, they expect you to pay for everything, their mood can change erratically and instantly like you’ve turned on a light switch and when you point that out to them they don’t know what you’re talking about, they can often be an emotional wreck and it’s especially bad once a month, they expect you to open all doors for them, they expect you to pull out their chair for them at a table. They expect you to hold their hand while you’re pushing the baby stroller with the other hand. They have all of these needs and expectations and they live for drama. If they don’t have drama in their life they will start drama. I don’t know how most guys can put up with them for a lifetime. Maybe that’s why women live longer than men do. His voice got higher and higher and louder the more he talked about it. He said they’re very high maintenance and I couldn’t take it anymore but if you tell them that they won’t know what you’re talking about. Most guys are not like that and it’s a relief.
On the topic of straights, have you noticed the “Sheep 101″ straight guys pushing a baby stroller and they wear a sports team jersey and a baseball cap? Is that part of teaching their child how to be a jock and do they think that will make their child straight? I feel like I’m living in another city now or in the suburbs.
I hadn’t noticed what you wrote about the sex store windows in the Castro. I guess I just go in the store without looking in their window. I looked in one store window last week and couldn’t believe it. If you can’t show a sex video cover in the Castro without covering up body parts with white stickers because some gays and straights find it offensive and will call the cops on the store, where can you show it? No where in this country. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I still find it hard to believe because I would have never thought that that could happen here, but then we do have the citywide nudity ban which many gay people supported so yes it can and has happened here. This is part of making the Castro “family-friendly” which means sanitized, and you said that too. It’s sickening and this has been done with the help of gay people.
San Francisco used to be an amazing place! I remember the first time I saw the fog rolling in over Twin Peaks on a sunny afternoon in late August near Castro and Market Streets. What a sight! The fog was so beautiful and I had never seen anything like that before. It’s still just as beautiful when that happens these days and I saw that same scene yesterday afternoon. After looking at the fog my eyes went down to the Castro Street level and the Jane Warner Plaza straight ahead. I realized the city of the gay mecca that I had just been remembering from seeing the fog and it bringing back those memory, that city with that Castro is gone. Thinking about that gave me pangs of sadness. I walked through the Jane Warner Plaza and what did I see? Three straight couples getting all lovey-dovey and putting on a show. Straights putting on a show was not a scene I ever saw in the Castro during the gay mecca. I presumed they had just come directly from that straight dating service and were following their instructions accordingly.
It’s a sad time for me because the soulful people are leaving San Francisco by the thousands (due to Ellis Act Evictions). I’m one of those ready to leave the country. SF doesn’t feel the same to me. It usually feels cold, snotty, unfriendly and nasty. Many people have the nastiest, angriest looks on their face. I was walking on the sidewalk with a friend from my office after work last week and he asked me, “have you noticed the nasty looks people are giving us as they approach? What’s going on? Do they think we are a terrorist? What the hell is wrong with people?” He asked me, “Do I have shit in my hair?” I told him no, you look fine the way you do in the office, there’s no shit in your hair. I’ve also noticed people’s nasty facial looks approaching in our direction. Nasty and angry looks are becoming more the norm wherever I go. The word corporatist best describes SF today. You wrote about no one saying excuse me anymore. We use basic manners like excuse me in my office but that’s the only place I know of that still uses it. It’s not said on the street. I made the mistake of saying excuse me to someone today on the street and you know what I got back? An angry look. The guy didn’t have the courtesy to return it. Pisted me off.
I’m a flower person. I used to stop and look at people’s flowers but I know not to do that either. You have about 10 seconds to look at someone flowers while continuing to walk (the same goes for their holiday lights) otherwise watch out and risk having some paranoid person look at you like you’re a “criminal suspect” or “terrorist” or risk some snot coming out of their place and asking, “may I help you?” I just walk away and say nothing but feel like saying I’m just looking at your flowers and I presume that’s why you planted them for people to look at, no? Go back in your house busy-person and leave me alone. I’m not going to rip them up or pick them and if you’re that paranoid about them don’t have any flowers at all. (Thanks for the flower images on pink barrio).
The people I used to see here I no longer see. They’ve gone. Who’s left except some wonderful longtime residents and thousands of mainly young, unfriendly, white, straight, brainless tech-bots riveted to their demonic mind-controlling devices.
I know places gradually change and not too much stays the same. But so drastically and so quickly as I’ve seen happen in San Francisco? Some people I know say this city now feels like a pressure cooker to them.
San Francisco is now a place of baby strollers, dogs, dog shit smeared all over the sidewalks because people are too inconsiderate to pick it up and vomit from the drunk young, mainly white bar crowd and techies. Have you noticed more people smoking cigarettes? Lung cancer no longer a concern either? I also see more blood on the sidewalks from I guess the weekend evenings fights that people get into. It’s such a wonderful place to live now. I’m resigned to the changes because they are inevitable unless there’s a tech and building burst which from the things I’ve been reading might be beginning to happen. Regardless, there’s nothing I can do about any of this so I’m living in my own little world and trying to do things I enjoy doing and keeping the stress down which means I try not to pay too much attention to this frustrating stuff. I’m looking forward to when I can leave the country sometime in the future.
This is much longer than I had planned for it to be. Thank you pink barrio for reading this and for posting it if you decide to.
A San Francisco Resident
Manning should be honored.
There are a few things in the article (link immediately above) I don’t agree with, such as referring to President [sic] George W Bush and Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney. Neither deserve such respect or those titles based upon the 2000 (think Florida) and 2004 (think Florida and Ohio) “elections.” Also, the comment in the article about “ignoring the fact that the last good reason to fight with the U.S. military came immediately after 9/11.” I don’t agree with that at all. There’s the “official story” about what happened on that day which many people don’t believe. If one bought the whole story, all but 3 of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia so why wasn’t Saudi Arabia attacked (instead of Afghanistan…think oil pipeline)? And many people feel 911 was an inside job intended to launch the Project For the New American Century agenda where that document speaks of needing a “new Pearl Harbor” (in order to galvanize the public) on page 51 of that document. Many people feel that 911 was “the new Pearl Harbor” and that day has been exploited as the excuse for nearly every draconian law passed since and the erosion of civil liberties in the Estados Unidos/U.S. and elsewhere. I notice that Obama’s name is mysteriously missing in the article and his having continued and expanded the Bush/Cheney regime’s agenda. And Obama declared Manning “guilty” before Manning had been put on trial. Is that what one would expect from a “Constitutional scholar?” Also, I’ve noticed that the gay sheeple seem to be writing in lockstep: “LGBT.” That’s all I see wherever I go. We use GLBTQ (and the Q standing for Queer). Putting the L first seems chauvinistic to me as in “Lady’s first.” I read that the reason that the “L” is used first is to show support for women’s rights. Using that logic, why not have the “G” first showing support for gay rights? Or the “T” first showing support for Transgender rights? Supporting women’s rights should be a given so that a lame reason, in my opinion. I think that’s about all I had a problem with in this article, otherwise it’s a very good article and I agree with the overall jest of it. Chau.—-rosa barrio
Regarding the art items on this page:
They are all from DeanJohnsonFineArt design. The Arte en lienzo Lámina Feliz Aniversário canvases (mismo sexo) are for people celebrating their time/years together whether they are married (as in wedLOCK) or not (as in living together). Just click on the item above which will take you through to his store for more information about them. Gracias. Chau.—rosa barrio